The neglected Afghan crisis: Ukraine must not let the global community forget about Afghanistan
The Ukraine crisis must not cause the world to forget about Afghanistan, as failing to address its humanitarian needs might be dangerous.
The Ukraine crisis must not cause the world to forget about Afghanistan, as failing to address its humanitarian needs might be dangerous. The Afghan state's security situation has gotten worse over the last year, and the country is currently experiencing the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with widespread starvation looming.
The Afghan crisis is a neglected conflict amid the Ukrainian crisis. In addition, health and food insecurity exacerbated by climate change and COVID-19, as well as the limitation of women's rights and freedoms owing to de facto rulers' skewed views and rising border tensions, have added to the Afghans' sense of insecurity, not to mention the conflict between the Taliban and the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), which results in more instability. All these factors have exacerbated the multi-dimensional gordian knot, which reflects the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan.
The entire world's attention is currently focused on Ukraine. However, the Taliban took power in August 2021, following a swift withdrawal of US-led foreign forces, and the country's humanitarian crisis has worsened since then. Following the Taliban's takeover of power, the Islamic State Khorasan (ISK) has tried to extend its operations. The group poses a huge security danger, and it may aim to use the country's power transfer and multiple crises to increase insecurity. Soon after the Taliban took power, ISK ramped up its attacks.
The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification has issued a report on the food crisis experienced in Afghanistan. The report projects a major reduction in Humanitarian Food Assistance to Afghanistan from 38% to just 8. It also reveals that poverty affects nearly 20 million people in Afghanistan. Furthermore, due to the country's deteriorating economy and a drought that has deprived almost 20 million Afghans of food, the country is in crisis and emergency. As a result, 6.6 million individuals face an emergency, while 13 million face a crisis (IPC, 2022).
Afghanistan is facing a significant financial crisis due to donor countries' financing stoppage and the suspension of Central Bank assets. In addition, Afghans are struggling financially due to a currency shortage, and the cost of basic goods, such as food and medicine, is increasing. Surprisingly, according to the United Nations, by mid-2022, Afghanistan could have reached near-universal poverty, with 97% of Afghans living in poverty.
The international community has ignored Afghanistan. As a result, the healthcare system is on the verge of collapsing; most Afghans cannot afford to feed themselves or their families, and millions are on the verge of starvation.
Mr. Guterres, the Secretary-General United Nations, has stressed that the people of Afghanistan are already selling their children and their body parts to feed their families. Afghanistan's economy has effectively collapsed. There is very little cash. Even foreign aid organizations barely function, and local partners confront greater difficulties.
Notably, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had the greatest immediate effect of diverting western focus away from the Afghanistan situation and toward Ukraine. The Ukraine situation now provides Americans with a familiar Cold War story. We can see a shift in resources for humanitarian aid and refugee support from Afghanistan to Ukraine due to this diverted attention.
Additionally, traditional European donor countries, which have contributed record sums for Ukraine in recent weeks and offered tens of thousands of places in their homes to Ukrainian refugees, are discriminating against who they support.
Afghanistan's former ambassador to Ukraine, Sardar Mohammad Rahman, asserts that the world has forgotten about the Afghan situation. Even the international media is not covering the crisis in Afghanistan. According to some analysts, the current geopolitical environment is uncannily similar to the late 1990s. The international community was ignorant of the new paradigm's potential repercussions when the Taliban gained control in 1996.
Foreign aid constituted over 80% of the country's budget before the government's fall last year. However, once the Taliban took power, much of this aid was discontinued, and Western countries and organizations froze financial assets worth nearly $10 billion.
According to humanitarian organizations, total funding is still a problem, and sanctions exemptions and the partial discharge of some frozen assets do not address the problem of overall economic meltdown.
In international politics, the Afghan issue has largely been forgotten. While the world's attention focused on the crisis in Ukraine, the terrible humanitarian situation in Afghanistan should not be overlooked. Apart from a shortage of needed aid, there are significant problems in delivering aid within the country, as the sources of transportation face numerous challenges. The humanitarian response in Afghanistan is being impeded by obstacles in getting cash into and out of the country. Moreover, the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is no longer a priority since Western forces are engaged in the Ukraine conflict. As a result of the current situation, transnational terrorist groups could be the ones who rebuild Afghanistan.